Dr. Robert W. Turner broke his neck playing college football, yet still played professionally for four years.
Turner and Fresno State Football coach Jeff Tedford were teammates for two years while playing for the Calgary Stampeders in the Canadian Football League.
Realizing that injuries were piling up and he was mainly on the fringes of the NFL, Turner retired as an athlete and later earned a Ph.D. in sociology. He is now an assistant professor at the George Washington University School of Medicine.
Turner recently published “Not for Long: The Life and Career of the NFL Athlete.” Published in July by the Oxford University Press, “Not for Long” focuses on the lives and careers of athletes trying to make it in a league with high injury rates and without guaranteed contracts, examining how the structure of the league interacts with the experience of players.
Turner will discuss “When the Game is Over: Life After Football” at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29, at the Peters Education Center. The talk will be followed by a panel discussion featuring three former Fresno State football players who played professionally in the NFL:
- Cameron Worrell, safety, played in the NFL from 2003 to 2008, mostly for the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins. He is currently the sideline analyst for Fresno State broadcasts on 940 ESPN radio and is co-founder of Passing Down and a partner in the Athletic Performance strength and conditioning center in Clovis.
- Sam Williams, linebacker, played for the Oakland Raiders from 2003 to 2011. He is currently director of marketing at TecTraum, a sports technology company.
- Kevin Jordan, offensive lineman, spent two years on the Green Bay Packers from 2001-02. He is currently the executive director of Keeping Youth Journeying Onwards.
Drawing on his own experience and his interviews with more than 120 current and former NFL players, Turner reveals what it means to be an athlete in the NFL and explains why so many players struggle with life after football.
Fresno State sociology professor Dr. Tim Cupery says Turner’s research applies beyond the realm of football.
“For many serious athletes, a large part of their identity is who they are in their sport,” Cupery said. “Missing time due to injury, or retirement from competitive athletics after a pro or college or high school career, is a struggle for many. Dr. Turner’s message is valuable to coaches and trainers and parents and doctors, as well as athletes and fans.”
The event, co-sponsored by the departments of Sociology, Public Health and Kinesiology, along with Club Red, an organization for Fresno State student-athlete alumni, is free and open to the public. Parking is $4. Lot P3, just west of the Student Recreation Center, is closest to the Peters Education Center.